Bamako - Two northern Mali army chiefs met with Algerian authorities this week to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the zone occupied by Islamist and Tuareg rebels, security sources said on Thursday.
"Colonel-Majors Alaji Ag Gamou and Abderahmane Ould Meydou met with the Algerian authorities to discuss security problems in northern Mali," a Malian security source told AFP.
Ag Gamou and Ould Meydou are both pillars of the Malian army, which was pushed out of the north as rebels seized the main cities following a 22 March coup in Bamako.
Lieutenant Ali Ag Inane, an ally of Ag Gamou who has taken refuge in Niger to escape the rebels, said the talks centred on "what can be done so that peace returns to northern Mali".
Observers say that Algeria, which has a powerful regional military presence, is showing increasing concern over the situation in its neighbour.
"Algeria is getting more involved than ever before," said Malian journalist Tiegoum Boubeye Maiga.
"By meeting with Gamou and Ould Meydou, who are not angels, Algeria is sending a clear message: 'If we must take up arms for peace to return to northern Mali, we will do it with our allies.'"